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Some Kind of Magic by Theresa Weir
(Harper, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-06-101295-5
***
I've read plenty of romance novels that desperately needed 100 or so pages of excess edited out, but Some Kind of Magic is the first book I can think of that needed 100 pages added to its length. Theresa Weir is an extremely talented author, but this sketchy effort left me feeling unfulfilled.

There's nothing wrong with the novel's quirky plot. Celebrating her 30th birthday at a local watering hole, Claire Maxfield wishes for some excitement to ward off the chill of another Idaho winter. Her artistic talent is in doubt, her lover Anton left three months ago, and her best friend Libby is showing signs of becoming a paranoid survivalist. Claire's dismal celebration consists of one bartender singing Happy Birthday and Libby's unusual presents a voodoo doll and a pair of handcuffs.

When Claire is carjacked at gunpoint on her way home and forced to give aid to a wounded fugitive, she realizes that excitement is greatly overrated. Luckily, her captor, Dylan, is a particularly inept felon. Claire quickly regains the upper hand and can easily turn him into the police. But for some reason she is reluctant to do the right thing.

Although Dylan is not exactly the escaped convict Claire believes him to be, he has been locked away from the rest of the world for years. He's had a sad and lonely past and now has a personal mission to fulfill. But he is surprised to find his mission temporarily derailed by an warm-hearted, impulsive woman who wears layers of long underwear, a silly crocheted stocking cap and incredibly feminine lingerie underneath it all. Claire is the woman he thought he would never find, the one person who can make his miserable life worthwhile.

Both the voodoo doll and the handcuffs feature prominently in the story, which fortunately does not linger long on the captive/captor plot. Instead Weir lets her two emotionally-wounded, offbeat characters become emotionally and physically involved, despite different personalities and goals. The author is a master at providing her endearing misfits with a desperately needed happy ending in a sweet, sensual and funny manner. Dylan's mysterious past makes him a particularly interesting character.

The novel missed a 4-heart rating, however, because of Weir's writing style, with its brief, one sentence paragraphs:

He was thirsty.

Damn thirsty.

He pushed past her and headed in the direction of the kitchen.

In the refrigerator, he found what he was looking for: water. He unscrewed the cap and lifted the bottle to his mouth.

He was still guzzling the water when he heard a click. It was the sound of a pistol being cocked.

"Get out of my house," the mothball woman (Claire) demanded. "Now."

He continued to drink, water running down his chin until he polished off the entire bottle. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

Had he taken the bullets out of the gun? He couldn't remember. Wished to hell he could remember.

He was losing it.

He watched her as she stood there, the gun shaking all over the place.

And as he stood there staring at her, he got the oddest urge.

To kiss her.

Which was weird as hell, considering the fact that she was pointing a gun at his head.

Instead of these staccato paragraphs, I wanted more depth, especially about Claire. Who is she? What happened to her family? How did she end up in Idaho? How did she get involved with Anton, her previous slimeball lover? The outline of Weir's characters are intriguing, but I wanted that outline filled in with more details and richness.

After polishing off Some Kind of Magic in approximately two hours I felt somewhat gypped. And if I had actually paid $5.99 for the novel I would have felt angry. It's a tribute to Theresa Weir's skills that I wanted to read more about Claire and Dylan, but because of the novel's minimalist style I couldn't get involved deeply enough for it to make a lasting impression.

--Susan Scribner


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